Opinion / Xin Zhiming

China's constructive role in Asia-Pacific

By Xin Zhiming ( Updated: 2014-11-07 15:47

China's high-profile hosting of the APEC meetings and its active role in the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as well as its plan to promote the Silk Road belt economy are a sign of the country’s deeper involvement in regional affairs.

The ongoing Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings could lead to a breakthrough in negotiations on a free trade area for the Asia-Pacific, a concrete achievement rarely seen in the recent history of the forum.

If that is achieved, trade tariffs would be reduced across the Asia-Pacific economic region, promoting regional economic cooperation and prosperity.

As the world’s second-largest economy and a major player in the Asia-Pacific region, China has seen its ever expanding economic clout benefit its neighbors and the region as a whole through generating business and trade opportunities and contributing to regional growth. However, some have wrongfully construed China’s rise as a threat to their influence in the region.

Since 2010, the United States has led some countries, including some APEC member economies, to push the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement initiative, a move that has undermined the pre-set APEC aim of promoting regional free trade

As analysts have pointed out, the US-led initiative is an attempt by the world’s biggest military and economic superpower to maintain and increase its influence in the Asia-Pacific while containing China’s rise in the region.

By initiating an entirely new economic cooperation framework, the TPP plan has ignored achievements already made by APEC in regional cooperation and could cause chaos in the regional economic order as participants would have to start a new round of time-consuming negotiations.

It is in China’s interest to lead the APEC meetings to accelerate the process of regional free trade talks and figure out a more comprehensive road map on regional economic cooperation.

The establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is an important part of China’s mega-plan to better integrate regional economies. The bank, currently comprising 21 member economies but with the prospect of more joining, will provide solid financial support to implement China’s plans to promote the economy of the “Silk Road”, which will extend China’s economic links to Europe, and the “Maritime Silk Road”, which will reach to the Indian Ocean and as far west as the Mediterranean and the Horn of Africa.

Such plans can play a de facto role in thwarting the US attempt to minimize China’s influence in Asia and the Pacific Rim.

China’s strengthened role in those areas will help anchor regional peace and promote economic prosperity, because China traditionally does not seek military or economic hegemony but upholds the idea of cooperation-based common prosperity.


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